What is the difference between RDs, holistic nutrition coaches, and other experts?
Registered dietitians, holistic nutritionists, health coaches, nutrition coaches, CRDs, RDMNSCs, and other alphabet-soup-named-professionals. Add multi-level marketing folks, Weight Watchers, Oprah, and other influencers. O. EM. GEE. My head is spinning already. I bet yours too.
According to this source, “In 2012, the government reported the employment of 67,400 dietitians and nutritionists across the country. By 2022, this figure is expected to climb to 81,600”. Who are all those people? What do they do?
1. Registered Dietitians
These guys are legally entitled to call themselves dietitians. Registered dietitians have to get at least Bachelor’s degree in their profession, and they also required to get some practical experiences along the way. They are guided by Dietetics’ Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). They often address nutrition education issues or food service management in communities (cancer centers, retirement homes, military facilities etc.)
They are not required to obtain the formal education and get accreditation from the government, yet most of nutritionists/nutrition coaches (interchangeable) have some sort of certifications to get employed. There are quite a few institutes and programs out there to qualify people as “holistic nutritionist”, ”certified nutrition coach”, “wellness coach” etc. Institute of Integrative nutrition and Precision nutrition are the ones of the biggest establishments in the market.
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Methods and focus of nutrition programs
Nutritionists often focus on health and nutrition issues (obviously) of individuals whereas dietitians are more concerned about public health. They are differentiated mostly by law, and also by what they preach. You will rarely find a RD talking about Paleo diet reducing inflammation. And almost never you will meet a certified Primal health coach talking about our diet having to include whole grains. Both are legally allowed to coach and guide you, just the methodology will be different. Most likely RD’s will follow traditionally, FDA – approved guidelines, while nutritionists will take you off the beaten path and have a more personalized approach.
Basically, it is up to you – your needs, your desires, and your personality. It is hard to change someone’s opinions, almost impossible. Both professions are helpful if chosen wisely according to one’s goals. Today we will focus on what nutrition coaches do, what they don’t, and how you can benefit from hiring one. Some of the nutrition coaches can focus on very narrow niches: helping people with autoimmune disease, balancing hormones, IBS problems, etc. Some are generalists and will help you lose weight, stay on track, and learn how to eat healthy.
What do nutrition coaches do?
- Assess their client’s current health condition, overall health, fitness, and wellness levels.
- Develop client’s nutrition goals based on their desires and health issues.
- Create a program and supportive system to reach client’s goals.
- Follow client’s progress and provide helpful tools to get through challenges and remove obstacles.
- Educate clients on nutrition and the most beneficial and health-influencing foods and supplements.
- Lastly, and most importantly: they connect with you to understand your achievements and struggles better, and to help you build the better version of you. They are listeners and your best cheerleaders.
…and what they don’t.
- They won’t be responsible for you following their guidelines.
- He or she won’t train your willpower ( they will help you with the tools to do so).
- They will not push you out the door to go to the gym to get your results even faster.
- Nutrition coaches most likely won’t cook for you (that would be awesome if they did).
- They will not push you beyond your limits.
When do you need a nutrition coach?
⇒ You struggle with figuring out your nutrition on your own;
⇒ If you tried every method in the book but none of them work for;
⇒ You need someone to keep you on track because your toddler will eat ice cream with you instead keeping you accountable;
⇒ You want to do much more than to change your diet, and need someone to motivate you a little extra to go for your goals;
⇒ Motivational quotes on Instagram aren’t’ cutting it anymore;
⇒ You need someone to listen to your needs and help you through rough patches.
Heck yes. Getting a nutrition coach is like getting a psychotherapist, a private chef, and a motivational speaker, all-in-one. The only thing is you will have to cook yourself, but a good coach will make it so you WILL become your own private chef.
These are the ways most nutrition coaches can help you to achieve your goals:
5 ways a nutrition coach can help you
1. Creates a path to achieve your goals.
Whatever your health goal is whether is to lose weight, or gain muscle, to help to deal with sugar cravings, your nutritionists can handle it the best way for YOU. Ideally, he or she will get to know you, your habits, and character enough to prevent you from failing, or to success with the least losses. He or she will know exactly how to get you where you want to be.
2. Saves you time.
If you are a busy mom of three, an ambitious young professional flying all over the country for work, or dad who works two jobs – you will have a hard time finding time for yourself. There will be other priorities than to search for vegan Paleo brownies on your Saturday night. That’s where the nutritionist comes in and helps you plan, learn, and support you with time-saving tools. This way you won’t forget about yourself among other responsibilities and priorities.
3. Tracks progress and keep you accountable.
When you are on your own, you will often resist sharing you want to eat better with others. It is often guided by guilt and fear of failure. A good coach will create a program for you that will be enjoyable. Nutrition coaches are notorious for creating all sorts of support tools and systems to keep you accountable and make sure you are hitting your targets. It is harder to do when you are on your own ( ever sneaked in a cookie when everyone is sleeping and then felt guilty afterward?)
4. Educates you.
There is SO MUCH information out there. After all, there are millions of pages, books, diets, and guides exist on the web. You need to find someone you click with, and someone you want to learn from. A good coach is a great teacher, but the student has to be ready. Nutrition coach needs to know the best science-based methods in depth to be able to explain you things in the simplest way, to inform you what are the best choices for you as well.
5. Provides you love.
Yes ! A good coach gives you extra love, extra support, and care. There is no room for shaming, judgment, or punishment in a good nutrition program. But there is a lot of space for love, encouragement, admiration, and cheering.
If you are to hire a nutrition coach, what would be your biggest expectation?
P.S. You may also be interested in reading One Thing Most Successful People have in Common.
Stay healthy, my friend.
Author: Anya Perry
Anya Perry battled boring diets, low energy, and declining health for over 10 years before she found what works. Now, she helps women achieve their dream state of health, fitness, and vitality… without the struggles, battles of miserable diets and yo-yo results. She can’t live without coffee and challenges.